Posts Tagged ‘Harry Parkins’

Appalling treatment of British war hero by Sunrise Beach Hotel

June 14, 2016
Harry Parkins Bomber Command veteran of 39 ops

Harry Parkins Bomber Command veteran of 39 ops

Whilst dining out one night, on leaving Vangelis restaurant after enjoying an excellent meal, Harry Parkins (92) collapsed. He sat on a chair for a few minutes and seemed ok. He had been complaining of dizzy attacks over the previous few days.

A few minutes later, his wife Mavis Parkins (87), on walking past Zodiac bar, stepping to one side to avoid a crowd of people on the pavement,  toppled off the curb into the road.

An ambulance was called, taken to a clinic, then to hospital, where x-ray taken and seen immediately by an orthopaedic surgeon. She was found to have multiple complex fractures of the shoulder. Ideally needed an operation, but the surgeon decided not safe due to her age.  The alternative was at least a week or more in the clinic with the shoulder immobilised, plus maybe a further month locally, before fit to fly home.

They were scheduled to fly home on the Sunday. Ideally be able to stay in the same hotel, being familiar surroundings, Mavis Parkins confused and suffering from dementia. But, now approaching peak season.

Hotel was e-mailed in the early hours of the morning, the situation explained, was it possible to stay, if not, then alternative accommodation would have to be found. E-mail sent to reservations. To date, no reply.

Nine o’clock in the morning Harry Parkins knocked on their door. He was dismissed and told to go away. He tried again an hour later. Same rude response. Had they not read the e-mail when he first inquired, they must have the second time, if not gross incompetence.

This is an appalling way to treat any guest, certainly not a guest who has visited many times, certainly not guests who are elderly and infirm. It was a bad reflection on the person, a bad reflection on the hotel.

A second e-mail was sent. The situation was again explained, furthermore an apology was required, and it was now urgent that a reply be given. No apology was ever made, to date no reply to e-mail.

Not knowing if had anywhere to stay, only led to more stress.

It was only thanks to intervention by a Thompson rep Magda that were allowed to stay. Thomson instructed Sunrise they had to stay. Not only stay, but keep the same room. They only learnt on the Friday, two days before they were due to leave on the Sunday. Days of unnecessary stress.

Magda, together with her manager, also took the trouble to visit Mavis Parkins in the clinic. Magda had also wished to visit the patient on her birthday with a bunch of flowers. It was only when she contacted the clinic to ask how was the patient, she learnt had departed for England a few days earlier. The hotel had lacked the courtesy to inform her.

Hotel reception falsely claimed the clinic where Mavis Parkins was being treated was not a registered clinic.  The treatment and care was excellent, plus added advantage the clinic was located nearby within easy walking distance. No apology received for this malicious allegation or the stress caused. It begs the question was the the hotel or the person who made the malicious allegation receiving a fee for referral to a clinic located a taxi ride away?

On the Sunday, room card updated to grant access to the room. Two visits to the clinic morning and afternoon, a walk along the coast path for a coffee.

On return to the hotel, reception told Harry Parkins he had to pack his bags and leave. Or, pay. Why? They said had not heard from the insurance. Three hours had elapsed from midday checkout, it was a Sunday. Insurance had not said no, they had simply not yet confirmed yes.

What had changed? There was no problem when key was updated, no problem early afternoon. Who had instructed reception to order pack bags and leave?

Reception were asked. They said no one.

Next day hotel manager claimed there had been a misunderstanding. There was no misunderstanding.

Mavis Parkins was transferred by air ambulance back to UK and is now in hospital. Harry Parkins only had confirmation approaching midnight and had to leave after an early breakfast and sleepless night. He asked night reception to connect a call to enable other parties know he was leaving. Night reception refused to connect the call.

Whilst discussing the case with Thomson rep Magda, the son of the hotel owner often walked by. Not once did he have the courtesy to walk over and ask how was things, was there anything the hotel could do to help.

Contrast with local businesses, bars, car hire, restaurants, water sports, owners and mangers of other hotels, other guests at the hotel, all who asked how was the situation.

When they left the hotel, the hotel never had the courtesy to inform their Thomson rep Magda. She only learnt when she contacted the clinic, that they had already returned to UK.

Harry Parkins and his wife Mavis have often helped out the hotel when illegally overbooked (a frequent occurrence), by vacating their room and moving to another hotel. When it comes to their needing help, the hotel does nothing.

This is how Sunrise treats its long-term guests, guests who in the past have gone out of their way to help the hotel.

Harry Parkins and his wife Mavis have stayed at Sunrise 61 times, usually two weeks in May and four weeks in September, over a period of more than thirty years. When they first stayed, not long after the Turkish invasion and occupation of the north of Cyprus, there was only Sunrise, Vrissiana and No 1 restaurant and Happy Days apartments.

On arrival at the hotel at the start of their holiday, a complimentary bottle of wine delivered to the room. Delivered with the cork removed. The wine was like vinegar, undrinkable. The bottle was taken to reception. Reception said go to the bar. Bar said talk to restaurant manager. Restaurant manager refused to speak, refused to look in the eye. Ordered a waiter. It was claimed no bottles of wine. Harry Parkins pointed to racks of wine. With reluctance it was changed.

Harry and Mavis Parkins were honored a few years ago by the mayor for over 50 visits. Sunrise falsely claimed the credit. It was Alex of Windmills Car Hire who arranged this with the mayor.

It is not only long-term guests who have problems, it is new arrivals too. A family asked every day how were things. They checked out a week later. They said never before had they had a holiday where they had to keep complaining. One night, at midnight, they found they were locked out of their room. The hotel did nothing to gain access to the room or offer an alternative room. They were told to wait in reception until a technician arrived in the morning. When the technician dismantled the lock they saw it was held together by tape. They complained to the manager. He said denied access to their room was not considered to be an emergency. Whether or not an emergency was irrelevant, the family were locked out of their room, a room they had paid for. The family had a young girl, an elderly man who had difficulty walking, with breathing problems, and his breathing apparatus was locked in the room. It does not bear thinking about had the man panicked that he was denied access to his breathing apparatus.

Last year Harry Parkins was honoured by the Dutch Ambassador for his role in Operation Manna, dropping of food to the starving Dutch under German occupation. He has been honoured by the RAF on numerous occasions, was guest of honour at inauguration of the monument to Bomber Command in Lincoln.

Thompson need to give very serious consideration to whether or not they continue using this hotel, or any of  hotels and apartments within the Sunrise group.

Reposted in Travel Writers.

‘After 36 operations and a mid-air collision, I made it to the end of the war’

November 11, 2014
Lancasters dropping food over Holland in Operation Manna

Lancasters dropping food over Holland in Operation Manna

Operation Manna

Operation Manna

Harry Parkins Bomber Command veteran of 39 ops

Harry Parkins Bomber Command veteran of 39 ops

Lancaster bomber flight engineer Warrant Officer Harry Parkins recalls his role in the world’s first humanitarian aid mission more than seven decades earlier with remarkable candour and detail.

On April 29, 1945, Bomber Command dropped tons of food over the west of Holland to alleviate the suffering of three million people. A million were officially classified as starving.

Over the next 10 days, Harry was involved in six special missions from RAF Fiskerton, east of Lincoln. It was part of Operation Manna, which saw US Air Forces and RAF aircraft parachute more than 12,000 tons of vital food supplies into the stricken area.

“After 36 operations with 630 Squadron out of East Kirkby with a New Zealand and Australian crew, I made it to the end of the war and even survived a mid-air collision with another Lancaster,” he said.

It was while he was training new flight engineers in early 1945 that Pilot Officer ‘Chips’ Fry begged him to go to RAF Fiskerton back on operations.

So he did three more with 576 Squadron before the first of six flights to Walkenburg, Delft and Rotterdam, dropping food.

He said: “Because the German troops were also starving, we could also see them and heard later that they’d also been taking up the bags of flour. Some had burst on the huge poles the distrusting Germans erected in the fields to stop us landing.”

Post-war, after meeting his future wife Mavis in her native Lincoln soon after, he chose to stay on in the county.

Now living on Trafalgar Court, Mr and Mrs Parkins – who have a son, daughter and two grand-daughters – had a shock last week when their phone rang.

“On Tuesday I got a phone call from Mrs Ella Howlett, who was in tears.

“She was thanking me and the crew for dropping the food which saved her life and many others. She was a girl in Holland and said many of her friends and family died. She was only 16-years-old at the time. And in 1948 she married her husband who was a soldier and came to live in England.

“It was a very emotional call because her family survived even though they had been eating tulip bulbs and making stew out of potato peelings.”

His 630 Squadron crew at East Kirkby held the record for the longest Lancaster mission – more than 2,000 miles over the Alps to Munich on April 24, 1944. The aircraft ran out of fuel on landing back at base 10 hours 25 minutes later.”

The final airlift on VE Day meant that Harry and his pals could pack up and go home – eventually.

But it was not before he was involved in repatriation flights for Allied prisoners-of-war held in camps in Brussels and Italy – during which he had a chance encounter with his uncle Len, whom he had not seen since boyhood.

Originally published Lincolnshire Echo, republished on Medium

Harry Parkins Birthday at 90

October 3, 2014
Harry Parkins at 90

Harry Parkins at 90

Harry Parkins at 90

Harry Parkins at 90

Harry Parkins Birthday at 90

Harry Parkins Birthday at 90

Harry Parkins marking 90th birthday with dinner at Nicolas Tavern.

Canadian Lancaster VERA lands at RAF Coningsby

August 9, 2014
VERA coming in to land

VERA coming in to land

Lancaster VERA coming in to land

Lancaster VERA coming in to land

Lancaster of Battle of Britain Memorial Flight standing in the rain

Lancaster of Battle of Britain Memorial Flight standing in the rain

Squadron Leader Paula Willmot braves the rain

Squadron Leader Paula Willmot braves the rain

two Lancasters

two Lancasters

two Lancasters

two Lancasters

two Lancasters

two Lancasters

Lancaster VERA

Lancaster VERA

Harry Parkins Bomber Command veteran of 39 ops

Harry Parkins Bomber Command veteran of 39 ops

Lancaster of Battle of Britain Memorial Flight

Lancaster of Battle of Britain Memorial Flight

flight crew chatting to crowds at perimeter fence

flight crew chatting to crowds at perimeter fence

flight crew and veteran before Lancaster VERA

flight crew and veteran before Lancaster VERA

Still hard to believe what happened today. — Matthew Munson

Starting to set in what we actually achieved bringing the Lancaster to the UK. An amazing experience, will never happen again. — Matthew Munson

Lunchtime yesterday, a Canadian Avro Lancaster touched down at RAF Coningsby. It is only one of two flight-worthy Lancasters, the other is based at RAF Coninsgsby, part of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. There is also based at Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre a Lancaster that can taxi, but not fly.

There had been weeks of lovely, warm, sunny weather. Yesterday it tipped it down, but that did not dampen the spirits of those there, invited guests, guests of honour being veterans from World War Two Bomber Command. There were also crowds gathered outside hoping to catch a glimpse.

There was due to be a fly past over Lincoln of the two aircraft, but this had to be cancelled due to poor visibility.

Harry Parkins, Bomber Command veteran of 39 ops:

I had a super time with the Air Vice Marshal’s wife taking me under her wing and introducing me to all the Press and TV who were asking questions and taking photos. The Air Vice Marshal’s wife was a Squadron Leader and said I had so many interesting stories that she would try and get me to go to one of their officers dinners.

From Lincolnshire Echo:

Lancaster veteran Harry Parkins, who is 89, and lives in Trafalgar Court in Washingborough, was absolutely delighted to be at RAF Coningsby today to welcome the Canadian Lancaster.

Mr Parkins, who is 90 in October, is a former salesman who went on to manage an electrical wholesaler.

He flew 36 missions as a flight engineer with 630 Squadron at East Kirkby and three missions with 576 Squadron from Fiskerton.

He said: “It is an amazing day. It brings back memories and I still go back to East Kirkby when I can because I don’t have to pay now.

“When I joined up with the first Lancaster unit, I had no experience in the aircraft because I trained on Stirlings.

“We never thought of the danger, you just knew for some reason that you would get back.

“It was exciting except when you were caught in the German searchlights, which we were over Stuttgart, but the pilot did a corkscrew manoeuvre and got us out of it.

“It is an honour to be here, especially as I served with crewmen from New Zealand and Australia.

“Now I am the only one left it is great to welcome the Canadians over here.”

Mr Parkins explained how he survived a mid-air collision over East Kirkby in 1943 as his aircraft was coming into land another Lancaster flew in below and took off a wheel.

“We all survived because we landed ok but the other aircraft crashed and exploded and all the crew were lost.”

Lancaster VERA was from Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, which is organising the $750,000 six-week trip to Lincolnshire. They were amazed at the level of interest their trip has generated.

Lancaster VERA flew to Goose Green, then to Iceland, then to arrive RAF Coningsby Friday lunchtime. A remarkable achievement, probably never to be undertaken again.

Pictures are mainly from Lincolnshire Echo. Tweets as shown.

A Second World War Avro Lancaster flies across the Atlantic, which was more than the Lockheed-Martin F-35 Lighting was able to do for the Farnborough Airshow.

Guest of honour at RAF Strike Command High Wycombe

January 10, 2012
Officer's Mess laid for Bomber Command Dinner

Officer's Mess laid for Bomber Command Dinner

Group Captain Adrian Hill did me the honour by not only extending an invitation but also taking me to RAF High Wycombe to attend as a guest at the Bomber Command Dinner night on 10 June 2010. This was the RAF headquarters of Bomber Command when Sir Arthur Harris BT CCB OBE was Chief of Bomber Command and I served under him as a Flight Engineer on Avro Lancasters at RAF East Kirkby in Lincolnshire.

Adrian picked me up from home, his wife had kindly supplied us with sandwiches, home-made quiche and a drink which we enjoyed on the way during a stop on the Watford bypass.

We arrived at High Wycombe three hours later.

On arrival Adrian showed me my room, a pleasant comfortable room next to the Officer’s Mess, and said he would pick me up at 6-30 for drinks, then we would get dressed for dinner in the Officer’s Mess.

I took the opportunity to have a wander round.

At the entrance I found three busts: Sgt John Hannah VC, Acting Flight Lieutenant Roderick Alistair Learoyd VC and Acting Wing Commander Guy Gibson VC DSO DFC. By the side was a beautiful Grandfather Clock.

I looked into the Officer’s Mess which was being laid for dinner. Hanging from the ceiling magnificent chandeliers.

A lady stopped me. I assumed she was one of the waitresses.

To my surprise she said: You are Warrant Officer Harry Parkins, and I know all about your war record on Lancaster bombers.

Somewhat stunned, I asked her how did she know?

She shook my hand and introduced herself as Squadron Leader Natalie Beck, RAF Intelligence. Then putting her finger to her nose and laughing said that’s why I am in RAF Intelligence.

We had a brief chat about my war-time experience and she told me she was helping out to get ready for this evening’s dinner.

I then continued to wander around the building, admiring the paintings and silverware and taking pictures.

As promised, Adrian Hill collected me at 6-30 for drinks outside the Mess and introduced me to some of his fellow officers, many of whom were high ranking officers. All were very friendly and wanted to know all about me, although they already seemed to know something about me.

I told them of how I met my wife Mavis on VE Day, of our two children and of our youngest son who sadly died of encephalitis at a young age, a viral infection of he brain.

Match Made at Stonebow

After several drinks, we went off to change for dinner. Once dressed, we were met at the entrance to the Mess by the Ensemble of the Central Band of the RAF with Adrian once again introducing me to high ranking officers.

The Mess was wonderful, the tables decorated with highly polished silver trophies. From the ceiling hung magnificent chandeliers.

I was seated with Adrian to my right, who kindly explained all the Mess traditions and procedures as the evening progressed. To my left was a delightful young lady, Flight Lieutenant Suzanne Atkins, who was excellent company.

The dinner, drinks and wines were based on a wartime menu, and all were excellent. In between each course, a high ranking officer gave a talk on three RAF VCs.

Flying Officer Leslie Manser VC
Acting Squadron Leader Ian Willoughby Bazalgette VC DFC
Group Captain Geoffrey Leonard Cheshire, Baron Cheshire, VC, OM, DSO and Two Bars, DFC

The band played God Save the Queen whilst we stood for a toast with a full glass of Cockburns Fine Ruby Port.

Camp coffee came with Bomber Command special mints with the Lancaster printed on the wrappers.

I kept my table napkin, in fact I did not use it. It was folded and decorated to look like an RAF jacket.

Air Vice Marshall Kurth then got up and announced we have an interesting guest here this evening. I looked around, thinking maybe a member of the Royal family had just arrived. He continued, the name is Warrant Officer retired Flight Engineer Harry Parkins. This was his introduction to a speech on my war record: 39 operations, mid-air collision in a Lancaster and a crash landing in a Sterling. He then went on to say that I held the record for the longest duration bombing raid in a Lancaster, flying from East Kirkby in Lincolnshire via Italy to fool the Germans, then up to Munich, then back to Lincolnshire, a bombing raid of 10 hours 25 minutes.

Mid Air Survival
The Longest Lancaster Operation – 10 Hours 25 Minutes

The room went quiet. Then 180 officers stood and gave me a standing ovation of around two minutes.

I did not know what to do or say as it was not expected and I was too moved to say anything. I simply said it was a fine tribute to my great British, New Zealand and Australian crew.

It was then time to retire to the bar. More drinks and many questions from the friendly high ranking officers.

By 2am in the early hours of the morning I was well and truly ready for bed but Adrian called me over and held up a glass of champagne from Flight Lieutenant Atkins, with a word of congratulations.

It was a fantastic night that Adrian had arranged for me. I felt like someone famous, just for doing what we had been trained to do for our country. I would like to give thanks to all the friendly officers I met, whose names I cannot remember, but here is a few:

Air Marshall S Bryant CBE MA BA
Wing Commander Steve Dharamraj
Squadron Leader Natalie Beck
Air Vice Marshal Kurth
Flight Lieutenant Suzanne Atkins (who gave me a card with a lovely letter)

Next morning, a full breakfast with Adrian and few of his fellow officers A wander around the gardens. Then at 1230 a good lunch ready for the drive home.

A very special thanks to Group Captain Adrian Hill for arranging everything and for such a wonderful two days.

– 1891679 W/O Harry Parkins retired

Mavis and Harry Parkins meet Mayor of Paralimni

May 17, 2011
meeting Mayor of Paralimni

meeting Mayor of Paralimni

Andreas Evangelou the Mayor of Paralimni

Andreas Evangelou the Mayor of Paralimni

This morning Mavis and Harry Parkins spent the morning with Andreas Evangelou the Mayor of Paralimni. They were given an award in recognition of having visited Protaras over 50 times. They were also given a bag of goodies from the people of Paralimni.

Centre piece of the Mayor’s office a present from the Mayor of Moscow.

Centre piece of the Town Hall on the ground floor, a stone anchor recovered from the sea.

Paralimni is the administrative centre for the tourist resort of Protaras in the South East of Cyprus within the Famugusta area.

A special thanks to Windmill Car Hire and Sunrise Beach Hotel for setting this up.

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